From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai threatened striking labour leaders who have been protesting ”anti-workers” policies in the state since Monday to get ready for prosecution over what he called their ‘criminal’act of grounding the economy of the state.
Governor El-Rufai spoke as a guest of honour while declaring open the 23rd annual tax conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria ((CITN) currently ongoing at Murtala Square, Kaduna.
To Governor El-Rufai, as much as workers have the right to embark on strike or stage protest, they do not have the right to shut down institutions and businesses who are willing to open to transact their legitimate businesses.
According to the governor, the protesters have prevented businesses from opening, the development he described as ‘criminal and ‘unacceptable’, vowing to prosecute and take action against them in due course.
‘Those of you that are in Kaduna know that our government is functioning, our economy is running and we are making efforts to ensure legitimate businesses are open,’ he said.
‘They have prevented businesses from opening. This is criminal, unacceptable and we are going to take action. We are making efforts to provide security for all businesses that want to open.
‘We are not against the right to strike. You are free to strike but work away from your institution and allow it to function without you, you have no right to stop any business from remaining open.
‘We are going to take a very strict measure against people that have tried to do that. I think what this strike is about is to answer fundamental questions the part of which is this: should an employer keep person with poor education, inadequate skills, qualifications, bad attitude in employment whenever he likes it or not? Our answer in Kaduna State is negative.
‘The second question is this, is the right to protest or to withdraw your services as an employee equivalent to the right to shut down the institution in which you work and attack public infrastructure?
‘Our position is very clear and the law is very clear. You can walk out, you can strike but you cannot shut down anything because public infrastructure is a public asset that belongs to the federation, belong to all the people of Nigeria. If you do, you are liable to be convicted under the Miscellaneous Offences Act which attracts a minimum of 21 years imprisonment.
‘We are going to pursue the people that engage in this sabotage to the full extent of the law. We will deal with the criminals. We will prosecute all those that have broken the law. I sure you, they will never come back to Kaduna again by the time we are done them,’ El-Rufai threatened.